ALL professional players and coaches in England will be made to take part in compulsory concussion classes ahead of next season.
The move comes following research in the US which found signs of early onset dementia in ex-NFL players.
The online course, which has been implemented by the Professional Game Board, will apply to the top two tiers in England and the regional academies, while further resources will be made available to referees and medical staff. It is hoped the programme will increase awareness and reinforce best practice protocols and will be aligned with the International Rugby Board’s concussion guidelines.
RFU chief medical Officer Simon Kemp said: “Concussion is acknowledged to be one of the most challenging sports injuries to diagnose, assess and rehabilitate but we continue to make significant progress in this area.
“The education initiative is designed to broaden understanding beyond healthcare practitioners and facilitate the further cultural change needed across the game for good concussion management. We are very aware that the way concussion is managed at the professional level drives how it’s managed at other levels of the game and it is important we continue to lead the way.”
Several high-profile campaigns to tackle concussion in rugby were launched following the death of Ben Robinson in 2011. The 14-year-old schoolboy died after being allowed to continue playing with concussion in Northern Ireland.
The Pitch Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA) trial – the five-minute test – will continue next season but there will be mandatory reviews of footage to check for abuses.